Learn how to make a basic cashew cream, using just 2 ingredients! Cashew cream is a vegan staple recipe that you can use to make delicious vegan cream sauces and other dairy free recipes…I’ll show you how!

hand pouring cashew cream into jar

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A love of creamy sauces and cheesy flavours has been with me since essentially birth. So adding cashew cream to my toolkit of plant-based recipes was a MAJOR moment for me. 

It allows me to make a creamy vegan alfredo sauce that I love even more than the original dairy-based version. It is the base for zero compromise, luscious vegan cheesecake – one of my all time favourite desserts. PS…if you want more amazing desserts, maybe check out my book Good For Your Gut!

I’m going to be REAL honest with you: I was one of those vegetarians who was like, I could go vegan…except for the cheese. In case you think a dietitian exists on nothing but kale salads and all bran, a lifetime of dietitian potlucks confirms that our favourite foods are in fact cheese, chocolate and red wine (it’s science, ha!).

All these years later, cashew cream is still one of my favorite dairy free swaps and the best part? It’s laughably easy to make. Let me show you how!

What is cashew cream made of?

A basic cashew cream recipe is really just 2 ingredients: raw cashews and salt (plus water!). From there, you can create a host of variations from a sweet cashew cream dip to a vegan alfredo sauce to a vegan queso dip!

water, cashews and salt
Cashew cream is SO simple to make! It’s just raw cashews, salt and water.

Salt, my friends, is non-negotiable, even if you want a sweet cream. It won’t taste overly salty…it will just taste better.

And yes, you want raw cashews. While salted, roasted cashews blend up just fine, they won’t be as neutral in flavour, making your cream taste like cashews, instead of a neutral dairy-like cream. In a pinch, roasted will work in a more strongly flavoured recipe, such as a vegan queso, but it will be less delicious as an alfredo or coffee creamer.

FAQ: do you need to soak cashews?

If you have a high-speed blender like a vitamix, no soaking is necesary.

If your blender isn’t as strong, you’re using a food processor OR if you are trying to blend up a very small amount, like a half cup of cashews, soaking is better as it will help hydrate the cashews, making them much easier to blend. If soaking at room temperature, you need ideally 4 hours or overnight.

Want to soak cashews quickly? Do a hot soak! Boil the kettle, and once it’s boiled, pour hot water over the cashews in a heatproof boil and let soak for 30 minutes. Soaking also mutes the flavour of cashews even further so the cashew cream will be more neutral.

How to make a basic cashew cream

Making a creamy, versatile cashew cream is super duper simple: Just blend your cashews with water in a high speed blender until silky smooth, about 1 minute. 

You can make your cashew cream thicker or thinner just by varying the ratio of water you use! To make a standard cashew cream, which is similar to the consistency of light cream or half-and-half, I use a ratio of 1 ¼ cup raw cashews to 1 cup water.

Want a thicker cream? Use ¾ cup water. A thinner one, to replace milk or light coconut milk? Just add water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until you get the consistency you’re looking for. 1 ½ cups of water is probably plenty.

How to use cashew cream in recipes

Cashew cream makes a wonderful substitute for heavy cream or half and half in recipes.

Swirl it into soups before serving, add it to marinara to make a vegan rose sauce, use it as a base for creamy salad dressings, or even as a vegan coffee creamer!

Try it in mashed potatoes, pour over oatmeal or muesli, or add some herbs and spices to create delicious sauces for grain bowls. I slather my favourite quesadillas in a cashew-based cream sauce too.

Tips, Tricks and Variations

  • Cashew cream lasts very well in the fridge for up to 5 days. It thickens as it sits, but you can loosen it up with a bit of water. Want to freeze it? That works too! It will need a quick blend once thawed to restore its texture.
  • To make a sweet cashew cream as a fruit dip, or topping for berries, simply reduce the salt to ¼ teaspoon and add maple syrup to taste (start with 1 tablespoon!). Add ½ tsp vanilla if you like!
  • If you have celiac disease, ensure that your brand of cashews is certified gluten free…and not all are!
cashew cream in jar
Cashew cream keeps super well for up to 5 days…although I doubt it will last that long!

More dairy free recipe swaps

hand pouring cashew cream into jar

Basic Cashew Cream Recipe

This basic cashew cream recipe is a creamy and versatile alternative to dairy cream! You need just 2 ingredients and 5 minutes…but the variations are endless. Use this cashew cream to make delicious vegan cream sauces and other dairy free recipes.
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Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt, halve for sweet uses

Optional flavourings (sweet or savoury)

  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, adds brightness and tang
  • nutritional yeast, adds cheesy umami
  • garlic or onion powder, for savoury depth and umami
  • fresh herbs, great for making sauces and dressings
  • spices, try curry powder!
  • pure vanilla extract
  • maple syrup

Equipment

  • High Speed Blender or food processor

Instructions 

  • Place cashews, water and salt in a high speed blender. If you're using any optional flavourings, add those too. Blend on high speed for a full minute until silky and smooth.
  • Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

There are SO many ways to vary this basic recipe! See the post for variations to make it thicker or thinner, and ways to use it.